The Austin Chronicle

The Good Old Naughty Days

Not rated, 69 min. Directed by Michel Reilhac.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., June 6, 2003

Upon first blush, this collection of mostly European "blue" short films shot prior to the advent of sound is a little disconcerting – the panoply of sexual acts portrayed might upset any naive notions you might have about what people (e.g., your grandparents) did in bed in the early part of the last century. Once the initial shock subsides, however, The Good Old Naughty Days will likely (depending on your proclivities) reinforce any views you already have about the entertainment value of porn. With innocuous titles (translated from the French) such as "The Musketeer at the Restaurant" and "Tea Time," the short films invariably follow the same narrative pattern: Two women begin to get a little randy, only to be interrupted by a man who soon joins in to prove that three is not a crowd. The sexual musical chairs mechanically performed in these films is familiar to anyone who has watched any porn – it’s all about the act of sex, and has little to do with eroticism. What is somewhat intriguing here, however, is how a couple of these otherwise heterosexual stag films foray into male-to-male sex, a pansexual plot twist you would never see in latter-day porn. Other than (God help us) a vignette featuring a nun and one frisky pup, there’s not much kinkiness on display – other than that glimpse of bestiality, the sex in The Good Old Naughty Days is plain vanilla. The best short in the bunch is an animated one made in America featuring a gentleman named Everready Harton and his rather lengthy appendage; the clever physical bits in this piece are worthy of Disney or Chuck Jones. What is sorely lacking in this film compilation is any sociological, historical, or cinematic perspective on the blue movies presented. The title cards between each film short attempt to give some of this background, but most of the stuff there sounds speculative, even made-up at times. (You get the impression that all of the effort has gone into finding these films, and very little into researching them.) So, unless you’re a true aficionado of this kind of fare, there may be little to keep you watching The Good Old Naughty Days in its entirety. Once the novelty wears off, you might find yourself instinctively reaching for the fast-forward button on a non-existent remote.

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